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Infrastructure Improvement Means Real Estate Activity

When the Trump administration released its $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan last month, it set in motion a multi-year process that could eventually lead to considerable investment in communities. Of course, Congress must pass legislation to make much of it happen. Although there are some parts that the administration can do on its own, a lot of the plan will require both authorizing and funding legislation, so how close we get to that $1.5 trillion goal is dependent on what lawmakers can agree on in the next year or two.

Regardless, with the country’s roads, bridges, waterways, dams, and other public projects aging, some projects will be getting funds in the years ahead whether or not the plan is all or partly enacted. The question for you is, how will you get involved? Will you get involved upfront, when projects are in the planning stages, or will you get involved after projects get going? Often, bridge replacement means land transactions, because it’s not unusual for a replacement bridge to be built alongside the existing bridge. That means government might have to acquire or condemn nearby property. Or if a road is widened—will that involve acquisition or condemnation of land?

Property values tend to go up after infrastructure improvements are made. In northern Virginia, expansion of the metropolitan subway system had a tremendous impact on property values along the new tracks. Huge condo, apartment, retail, office, and mixed-use projects followed. It triggered a real estate boom.

The administration’s infrastructure plan is featured in the latest Voice for Real Estate news video from NAR. Access that segment now.

The video also looks at why NAR supports the banking reform bill that passed the Senate a couple of weeks ago, why passage of long-term reform of federal flood insurance is just as much about improving communities as it is about continuation of insurance policies, and why Congress needs to make mortgage debt forgiveness relief a permanent part of the tax code. Cyber crime and association health plans are covered, too.

Access and share video.

Audio: Dealing with Cyberthreats

Steve Spano, president and chief operating officer of the Center for Internet Security, recently visited NAR’s Washington offices to discuss techniques real estate professionals can employ to stay safe online. Listen to his comments below.

Yes, Interest on Home Equity Loans is Still Deductible

There’s been confusion since the big tax law was enacted over the deductibility of interest on home equity loans. NAR has been saying that the interest is still deductible for the part of the loan that’s used for home repairs, renovations, and additions. And that’s the correct interpretation, according to the IRS. The agency confirmed that in a memo about a week and a half ago.

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The part of the loan that’s used on the house to fix something or improve it remains deductible under the new tax law. Loan proceeds that are used for personal living expenses or anything not related to improving the home are not deductible.

The clarification is looked at in the latest Voice for Real Estate news video from NAR.

The video also looks at an important vote in the House on so-called drive-by lawsuits. These are lawsuits filed by people who are using accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act to extract fees from small property owners. People are sending letters to property owners alleging they have an ADA violation and threatening a lawsuit unless the owner reaches a settlement with them. The person sending the letter typically doesn’t even say what the alleged violation is. The only way the owner can find out is by going to court. Most owners end up settling as the cheaper alternative and if there was ever any violation the owner never finds out what it is.

The House passed a bill requiring people who send these letters to identify what the alleged violation is and to give owners a chance to correct the problem before taking them to court. It’s a solution that addresses a clear abuse of an important law and NAR supported its passage. The bill still has to be taken up in the Senate.

Other topics in the video include NAR’s Commitment to Excellence initiative, which will roll out later this year, to give NAR members a chance to voluntarily assess how well they perform on key aspects of their business, including technology, the Code of Ethics, and the forms and contracts they use.

The video also gives an update on home sales—they’re off to a slow start this year, mainly because of inventory shortages in many markets, especially among lower-cost starter homes—and what’s happening in commercial real estate. Briefly, transaction volume on small cap properties is doing okay but volume on large cap properties is slowing down.

Watch and share video.

Marilia Cathcart, GRI, E-PRO, CHS, HPS

City and Coast Properties
Broker/Mortgage Broker
CA BRE License #00496226
717 Union St. Ste K
San Diego, CA 92101
NMLS Licenses #385315 & 244536
Notary Public -  CA - Comm. # 1916637
Phone: 619-300-5008

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Marilia Cathcart’s professionalism, knowledge of the real estate market, the loan process and her continuous vital support in all aspects of buying and selling a home were invaluable and very much appreciated. She is easy to work with, personable and made the whole loan process, as well as buying and selling our home very smooth and uncomplicated. It is wonderful to find someone like Marilia who will go the extra mile to assure peace of mind every step along the way. Her availability, and most of all her professionalism, generosity and kindness make her an outstanding representative of her profession. She took us under her wing and guided us through every detail to completion. My husband and I will not hesitate to recommend Marila Cathcart to anyone who is thinking of securing a loan or who is looking to buy or sell their home – she is the BEST. Oscar and Rita Carlson
Endorsement for Marilia Cathcart: In my career as a physician-scientist, I have lived in the northeast, southeast, northwest, and southwest USA, as well as in the middle of the country. As was my custom when moving to a new city, as soon as I knew I would be joining the faculty at UCSD, I flew to town, rented a car, and drove around until I found an attractive neighborhood near my future workplace. I then went to the nearest shopping area for that community, and walked into the realtor offices, tucked to the side of the grocery store. There she was, standing inside the door with a big smile to greet this weary traveler, the lady who would change my life for the better, Marilia Cathcart. She not only showed me houses while I was in town, but continued to send me pictures and information on prospects after I had returned to Seattle where I was finishing training. She paid close attention to what I said I was looking for, the health problems I needed to accomodate, and found many wonderful possibilities. When we found my dream house, she helped me see how I would be able to afford it by calculating how much the mortgage interest deduction would save me in taxes. She found me a banker that gave me the loans I needed, she found me wall-to-wall carpeting at wholesale prices, and she even fixed me up with a very attractive and nice young man I still think about. I ended up so crazy about that house that I wish I still lived there. When I had to move back east, she helped manage that California property for me, and when I finally needed to sell it, she handled that, too, in the middle of a real estate slump, no less. I had bought the house in 1977, and sold it in 1991, so this all may seem like ancient history, but is not the end of the story. When I retired in 2000 and decided to move back to San Diego County, she reprised her role as lifesaver. After looking at loads of houses both physically and now with computer assistance, on line, she found me another perfect house for my needs. She later helped me find a reliable outfit to refinance my loan when the interest rates dropped sufficiently. I have been in this home ten years now, and they will need dynamite to dislodge me. Marilia Cathcart is, quite frankly, the best real estate manager/seller/broker I have ever dealt with, and from coast to coast, there have been quite a few. She has a wonderful business sense, and is frugal with both the buyer's and the seller's money--I know because she has handled both for me. She is also a terrific "people person", with good instincts about what people want, and what will work for them. She was "networking" before the word was invented-- she would call it making friends, and putting people together who can help each other. Since she knows everybody, and never forgets a good guy, when you know Marilia, you potentially know a whole phonebook-full of good guys who can do anything from give you a mortgage loan to fix your sprinkler. As an added bonus, she is just a lovely human being, and a pleasure to know, even after nearly 34 years. Marilia Cathcart has my highest recommendation, without reservation. Charlotte B. McCutchen, M.D. Dr Charlotte B. McCutchen
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